The game between the Montrose High School football team and Durango came down to one play Friday night at home.
The Demons had a chance to take the lead after deciding to go for a two-point conversion following a 7-yard rushing touchdown by Durango quarterback Jordan Woolverton to cut the deficit to 14-13 with about a minute left in the game.
On the two-point try, the Indians defense flushed Woolverton out of the pocket, making him scramble to find an open receiver. But the Durango QB ended up flinging the ball into the end zone, where it fell to the ground.
Montrose (3-0) recovered a Durango (1-2) onside kick attempt to hold onto the one-point win at home.
“We stayed together as a team,” said cornerback Aaron Dietrich, who was one of the Montrose defensive backs who forced the late incompletion. “We’ve got to stay together to beat (opponents) that like to spread it around.”
This came on a night when four players didn’t compete for Montrose due to “team reasons,” said MHS Brett Mertens, who declined to go into further detail.
“We gave them a lot of chances to come back, and every single time our defense made plays,” Mertens said. “Even on the two-point conversion, we made the play that we needed to make.”
Montrose fullback Cole Simmons had another two-TD night as he scored once in the first quarter and again in the third.
Eli Evans, who normally plays safety, was the other main running back for Montrose. Although he didn’t score, Evans had a few big runs, including one that set up Simmons’ second rushing touchdown.
“He ran the ball great,” Mertens said of Evans. “He played both ways, and grew up in front of our eyes.”
The two helped the Indians execute their gameplan of running the ball and maintaining the time of possession. It worked as the Demons’ offense had the ball twice in the first half and only four times in the second.
“We limited their possessions which was big,” Mertens said. “... That’s what we want to do and we were able to tonight.”
That was seen from the get-go. Montrose received the ball to start the game and used a nine-plus minute drive that was capped off when Simmons punched it in from three yards out.
On Durango’s next possession, the visiting team quickly went down the field to tie the game following a 4-yard TD pass.
That was the only first-half score for either team.
After the Demons TD, the Indians moved the ball downfield, getting it to the Durango 30-yard line. But the hosts were pushed back on their next two plays, losing 10 yards before having to punt.
Durango went on a short drive before giving the ball back to Montrose with less than two minutes left. The Indians weren’t able to do much as they were out of timeouts before the buzzer sounded.
Coming out of halftime, the Montrose defense forced a Durango punt before the Indians put together their last scoring drive.
This time, Simmons went up the middle for a 13-yard score to help the home team gain a 14-7 lead.
But Mertens and staff weren’t afraid to pull out a surprise on Durango.
On the ensuing kickoff, Dietrich went for the onside kick, which fooled the Demons as he ended up landing on the ball. This was his second successful try this year after doing so against Grand Junction Central in the season-opener.
Dietrich said he likes that his coach gives him opportunities like that even though he hasn’t kicked since middle school.
“I’m a little bit faster than most kickers so it works and it has paid off,” he said.
Unfortunately for the Indians, the play didn’t result in more Montrose points. The team went into the red zone but was forced to kick a field goal after facing a 4th-and-6 early in the fourth quarter.
The kick was no good though as it was just short of the goal post.
After a Durango punt, Montrose had another chance to put the visitors away as the offense drove into the red zone again. When the Indians faced another fourth down, they decided to go for it, but MHS quarterback Keagan Goodwin was sacked on the play.
But the aforementioned failed two-point conversion, as well as Montrose’s Jack Christian recovering the Durango on-side kick, helped the Indians come out with a win.
“Our defense is the greatest level of improvement since last year to this year,” Mertens said. “We pride ourselves on teams not running the football and they weren’t able to do that tonight.”
Montrose enters its bye week before heading to Grand Junction to play Palisade at 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 26, at Stocker Stadium.
Andrew Kiser is the Montrose Daily Press’ sports/business writer. Follow him on Twitter@andrew_kpress.